Italy, the coast, what comes to mind? The Amalfi Coastline? Naples? These are both highly recommended destinations in Italy…But, let me tell you about the east coast of Italy! Bari, Italy is perfectly suitable for a weekend holiday break. This is the Puglia region of Italy, and you are going to love it!
What you can expect from the lower east coastal side of Italy is more authenticity. Don’t get me wrong, there are places in the Almfi coast that offer some traditional Italian stereotypes. Though, from my experience, the Amalfi Coast is more for the tourists than the locals. Puglia is where all the magic is.
The east coast of Italy, specifically Bari, Italy is less traveled and filled with far fewer tourists. I visited what would be high season, the summer. At the end of August the beginning of September you can count on it be hot as hell. My advice is to be SURE to find a place to stay that has air conditioning.
Bari is a great spot to spend a mini-break for several reasons. For the solo traveling lady, it is important that I share I felt very safe, even at night. I stayed right in the center of the historic old town Bari. At night is when the streets would come alive with the locals. A typical Italian tradition is for old ladies to take their chairs out on the pavement and chat with their neighbors. I would witness this every night, and seeing it really made me feel as if I was visiting the “real” Italy.
The Puglia region consists of several coastal towns in the heel of the boot, the most popular are Bari, Pologina a mare, and Monopoli. Each of these coastal destinations are easy to reach via Bari by train.
Must-See Sites of Bari, Italy
Basilica, Basilica, Basilica. This means church in Italian. Bari has so many idyllic churches to check out. Here are a few of the most visited:
Bari Castle (Castello Normanno-Svevo)
If you are a castle lover like I am, you will want to check out this enormous castle which is said to have been in the 1100s by King Roger II. You can walk the interiors and marvel at the fact that sheer size and age of this castle.
Exploring Italy’s East Coast Old Town of Bari
Lose yourself in the small winding streets of the old town of Bari. Authentic little Italian markets and shops can be found all through this area. Enjoy an espresso or my fav, an Aperol Spritz.
Lungomare Nazario Sauro (the promenade)
This is the perfect place to enjoy a sunset or a stroll along the water on this eastern Italian coast. The promenade is about 1000 meters long, packed with beautiful scenery of whitewashed architecture. Here is another opportunity to enjoy a coffee or cocktail with a view.
Here it is very popular, maybe the most popular square in the old town of Bari. This piazza is located close to the harbor and is most lively after sunset. Many of the most popular restaurants in the old town can be found here. Find yourself someplace to sit, and watch the world go by.
There are several museums and other sites to be seen in Bari. For your weekend break in Bari, you can also consider:
Best of Where to Stay in Bari, Italy
When choosing your accommodations as a solo female traveler, you want to consider its safety and close proximity to transit.
I chose to stay in the old town of Bari, which offers an abundance of Airbnb. For a truly authentic and magical stay in old town Bari, I recommend this Airbnb.
This spacious 2 level, 1.5 baths Airbnb surpassed my expectations! On the first level, you have the living room (with sleeper sofa), a fully equipped kitchen, and half bath. Level 2 has the master bedroom, full bathroom, and den area with another sleeper sofa.
You can see from the photos this place is unique and one of a kind. This particular Airbnb has air conditioning, wifi, and a wonderful communicative host.
Other hotels that are highly reviewed on public sites are:
Best Restaurants in Bari, Italy
If you are a single woman traveling like myself, looking to stuff your face with a load of Italian food, keep reading.
The food of the Puglia region is rich with seafood! The most famous dish of Italy’s eastern coast is “Riso al Forno Alla Barese”. It consists of rice, potato, mussels, and so many spices.
The reviews online on this place are mixed. There is some truth to the service, and I would say the ambiance is not very cozy. The food I found to be delicious. This is where I had the famous “Riso al Forno alla barese”, consists of rice, potato, mussels.
Here you will find the best pizza in Bari. Yes, the restaurant is smack in the middle of the tourist area and yes, I usually avoid these places. L’Osteria Del Borgo Antico is the exception. It was the best pizza I’ve had…ever.
This is a lovely bistro-style restaurant serving delicious food as well as wine, beer, and spirits. I really enjoyed a lovely salad to start the night and a glass of Prosecco. The menu is not your typical Italian fare, so when looking for something different, give this place a try!
I am a sucker for a spicy arrabbiata sauce, and this place doesn’t disappoint. The pasta was so good, I ate here 3 times!! I also had their version of Riso al Forno alla barese, and I can highly recommend it.
Must-Visit Cafes of Bari, Italy
Does the idea of eating a chocolate croissant make your mouth water? Yes? Visit this modern and swanky style cafe serving the world’s best croissants! The delicious croissants are available in 2 sizes, large and small. It is also worth mentioning that they serve soy milk, which can be very hard to find at other cafes.
If you are looking for more than just a great espresso, this is the place. Perfect for breakfast or lunch, but it does get busy, so be advised.
Here is your healthy option for when you can no longer zip up the jeans. Here you will find a variety of juices, teas, and coffee. Lots of fresh vegetables, salads and sandwiches. This is the place with the most options for vegans.
Transit Info From Airport to Old Town Bari
When arriving at Bari international airport you have the following choices of transit to the old town of Bari:
Taxi – If you want to take a taxi from the airport to Old Town Bari, it should cost approx. 20 euros. However, websites warn that all taxis cannot be trusted to give you an honest price. My advice is to confirm with the driver the cost before getting in.
Train– Taking the train from the airport is what I did, and I can recommend it. From the airport, you will follow the signs for the train that lead you underground. There was an attendant at the desk at the entrance to the train selling tickets. Also, you could use the machines to get a ticket.
The train was clean and efficient and felt safe for a single woman traveling. Taking the train to Bari is a journey of about 25 mins, and ticket costs were approx. 7 euros.
After arriving at the main train station, the walk to the old town is 20 mins. If the weather is nice and you don’t have a lot of luggage, I would highly recommend it.
When taking the bus to your hotel, I recommend downloading the transit app here
Bari to Monopoli and Polignano a Mare
If you are looking to see more of Puglia on your east coast Italy trip from Bari, I have some suggestions!
Take the train from the central station to both Polignano a Mare and Monopoli. The first stop is Polignano a Mare, the next stop is Monolopi.
The journey from Bari takes only about 30 mins and costs less than 4 euro. A Single Woman Traveling tip. Download the app from Trenitalia get your tickets ahead of time. If you buy them at the station, give yourself an extra 20 mins to wait in line. Because I have never seen a machine take longer to produce a ticket than these ones. Even someone who knows exactly what they are doing could grow old waiting for the machine to spit it out. If you want to save yourself the time and have it ready to go before you get there.
Once you have arrived at either station, it is a quick walk to the old towns. Most amazing views from both these seaside towns!
Something to be aware of is your arrival time. Many shops and restaurants close up between 2 pm-6 pm. As a result, you should plan your time accordingly.
If you plan to visit both places on the same day, plan to get to Polignano a mare early and have lunch, then head to Monopoli around 3 pm and wander around until dinner time.
I have hundreds of pictures from my amazing trip to the Puglia region of Italy. If you want to see more pictures, follow me on my Instagram.
For some hotel recommendations in Polignano a Mare, check out:
Verona is amazing and perfect for a solo female traveling, you should go if you have time to explore! Here is my guide to visiting Verona in style: Boutique Traveler Guide to Verona
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